What is basketball? One of the most popular sporting disciplines in the world, basketball made its first appearance at the Olympics as a demonstration sport at the 1904 St Louis Games.
At the 1936 Games, basketball was included as a medal event and has been a permanent fixture at the quadrennial sporting showpiece since. Women’s basketball made its Olympic debut in 1976.
For people unfamiliar with the sport, here are the modern-day basketball rules, the regulations, scoring system, positions, and the origin of the sport.
Each game is divided into sections, and all levels have two halves.
In college, each half is twenty minutes long.
In high school and below, the halves are divided into eight (and sometimes, six) minute quarters. In the pros, quarters are twelve minutes long.
There is a gap of several minutes between halves. Gaps between quarters are relatively short.
If the score is tied at the end of regulation, then overtime periods of various lengths are played until a winner emerges.
Who invented basketball?
The origin of basketball can be traced to Springfield, Massachusetts in the USA. Dr James Naismith, a Canadian physical instructor working at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, introduced basketball in 1891.
Instructed to devise an indoor sport to keep the YMCA athletes in shape during the harsh winter months, Naismith came up with a sport involving two peach baskets and a soccer ball with a set of 13 rules.
The first game of basketball was a 9 vs 9 contest according to Naismith’s rule book but over the years, the laws have been changed and fine-tuned to make what we know as modern-day basketball.
Basketball court: Dimensions and markings
To understand basketball, it’s important to have an idea of the court’s layout.
According to FIBA (international basketball federation) guidelines, a basketball court is a rectangular playing area 28m in length and 15m in width. International competitions including the Olympics follow FIBA guidelines.
The border markings along the length of the court are called sidelines and the breadth of the court are called endlines or baselines.
The outer edge of the key parallel to the endline is called the free-throw line. There’s a 3.6m diameter semi-circle drawn on the outer part of the free-throw line called the free-throw circle.
Basketball is a team sport and the game is played between two sides. The core objective in a basketball game is to score points by putting the ball inside the hoop (basket) and to prevent the opposing team from doing the same.
A basketball game starts at the centre of the court when the ball is thrown high up by the referee and one player from each team competing to gain possession. The team that catches the ball, or in possession, is called the offensive team while the team not on the ball is the defensive team.
The offensive team plays with the intent of getting the ball through the opposition hoop or scoring a field goal after moving the ball around the court by passing or dribbling the ball, abiding by a fixed set of basketball rules.
Basketball points-scoring system
Three-point shot: Shooting and scoring a field goal from anywhere outside the three-point line arc wins the team three points. These are referred to as three-pointers.
One-point shot: Points can also be accumulated through free-throws, which are worth a point each. Free throws are awarded to a team when the opposition team fouls.
During free throw, the fouled player is allowed a fixed number of shots — depending on the nature and referee’s interpretation of the foul committed — at an open basket from anywhere inside the free-throw circle with both his feet behind the free-throw line.
According to basketball rules, Illegal physical contact or obstructions without the intention of winning the ball by a defender when an offensive player is aiming to shoot is regarded as a foul.
A FIBA sanctioned game typically consists of four quarters of 10 minutes each. After two quarters or half-time, the teams switch sides on the court. The team with more points at the end of the four quarters wins the match. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, the game can go into an overtime period.
An offensive player can keep the basketball moving around the court by dribbling or passing the ball to a teammate. In a basketball dribble, a player needs to bounce the ball against the floor continuously using one hand at a time.
Using both hands simultaneously to dribble or touching the ball twice before it bounces once constitutes a double dribble violation, which ends in ceding possession to the opponent team.
How many players in basketball
A traditional basketball team has 12 players, with five basketball players on the court at any given time. Unlimited substitutions are allowed.
The five players can be segregated into the following positions:
Point guard: Usually players with the best ball-handling skills and vision in the team play as point guards. A point guard’s primary role is to orchestrate both offensive and defensive plays and set up scoring opportunities for team-mates.
Shooting guard: Typically the best long-range and mid-range shooter in the team. Players patrolling the position constantly look for three-pointers or can help drag defenders out wide to create space near the basket for their team-mates.
Small forward: Playing as a short forward needs a versatile skill set. It requires strength and height as well as speed and dribbling abilities. Mid-range and short-range shooting abilities are also important.
Power forward: A power forward is somewhat similar to a small forward but with a bigger focus on physicality. A power forward is usually a foil for the center and are the team’s most dependable scorers from inside the paint.
Center: Usually the tallest player in the team, a center is required to occupy the space nearest to the basket in both halves. In defence, they are tasked to pick rebounds and block opposition shooters while their offensive duties require them to finish off short-range moves or shield out defenders to allow their team-mates a clean drive at the basket.
NBA, the popular US-based basketball league, also follows similar rules with very minor alterations.
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